Tap Into Your Body Wisdom with Gabriella Espinosa

An embodiment coach and menopause mentor, Gabriella “Gaby” Espinosa works with women on owning their pleasure, power, and purpose in midlife and beyond. Through her company, Women’s Body Wisdom, she guides women to connect to themselves more intimately and tap into their “body wisdom”.

“When we tune in and really listen to the incredible amount of intelligence that our bodies hold, we’re better able to nourish ourselves in the way of food, rest, reflection, movement, and pleasure. When we’re able to do this, we’re able to connect with ourselves more intimately. This trickles out to our relationships – not just with ourselves, but those with our loved ones and the world around us.”

So, what exactly is an embodiment coach?

A practicing Yoga instructor for more than 15 years, Gaby takes an integrative approach to working with her clients, combining her yogic studies and training as a nutritional therapist, with experience as a meditation and breath work teacher. This unique blend of training and expertise and her own multi-year experiences with Graves’ Disease and perimenopause, is what led her to her current work.

“I saw an opportunity to combine all of the learning, training and teaching I’d experienced over the years, to help what I see as ‘a collective gathering of women’ wanting more information on how to navigate the very natural, but sometimes overwhelming, transition into menopause.”

Gaby’s primary goal as an embodiment coach and menopause mentor is to empower women to really know and trust their bodies through the process.

“The symptoms are there, and there are many different ways to address them. But I like to take a step back and use the knowledge that I learned in my own yoga journey to help others develop awareness around their bodies, so they can live in connection with the intelligence that their bodies hold and do it in such a way that they show up as their truest selves in the world.”

Gaby says that embodiment is really about tuning in to all the different layers of your being and what makes you uniquely you.

“It’s about tuning into the mental, the emotional, the physical — noticing and identifying contractions, tension which can manifest themselves in pain and discomfort, disconnection, numbness. It is about embracing this stage of life as an opportunity to tune in to our inherent goodness, our inherent wholeness – to befriend our bodies, not to go to war with our bodies so that we can really step into the best versions of ourselves.”

A series of life transitions lead to body wisdom.

To fully appreciate how Gaby wound up in this place of menopause enlightenment and body wisdom, it’s important to understand where her journey started…

Now 55 and celebrating (her word) being post-menopausal, Gaby’s work is in large part, informed by her own experiences with hyperthyroidism (i.e., Graves’ disease), directly followed by perimenopause – both of which caught her off guard and sent her health – and life – into a tailspin.

After building her first career as a successful communications and marketing exec, Gaby left behind the demands of long hours, business development and global travel to shifting her focus and energy into growing her family. But even after leaving the corporate world, Gaby’s intensity and drive for perfection didn’t wane, it only shifted to her home life.

“After having three children, one right after another, I traded in the long business hours for the long hours at home. I strived to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife – doing all things all the time.

I also began teaching yoga during this time. While I loved being able to be there for my children and partner and teaching yoga, it didn’t take long before I was applying the same work mentality I’d relied upon to succeed in corporate culture to my home life and yoga practice.”

Gaby says she wasn’t looking after herself and had reached a place where she burned out due to a lack of self-care and boundary management.

“My life had been all about serving others and not looking after myself, nourishing myself, or making my own self-care a priority.”

In her late thirties, she developed an autoimmune condition called Graves’ Disease or hyperthyroidism and started experiencing heart palpitations, night sweats, anxiety – many of the symptoms that are associated with perimenopause. She also lost a significant amount of weight.

This led to the start of her healing journey where she says she really began to take control of her life, paring down her yoga practice from a more physical form to more restorative, nourishing types of yoga.

Gaby says that by radically changing her lifestyle and committing to a disciplined form of self-care, she was able to heal her Graves’ disease. However, she believes that the autoimmune condition, kick-started her perimenopause.

“I managed to get my hyperthyroidism under control. But I kept having symptoms – the night sweats, anxiety. This caused me to spend a few years constantly back-and-forth with the doctors, saying ‘I still think my thyroid is imbalanced, can you check?’ And they’re like, ‘nothing is wrong. You’re fine, you are probably feeling depressed’ or, ‘here, take this beta-blocker to help with your palpitations’.”

She says that no one was alerting her to the fact that it could potentially be perimenopause and she had to do a lot of research and “knock on quite a few doors” before she finally figured out what was going on.

Managing a mercurial route to menopause.

Gaby says it took a few years of meeting with several different specialists including, nutritionists, homeopaths, and medical doctors before the word menopause even surfaced. She believes that it was because of her age (she was in her mid-forties) that no one raised the possibility that she could be experiencing perimenopause. Of the many specialists she met with, only one – an endocrinologist – flagged perimenopause after she mentioned she’d been having some bone aches and joint pain. He suggested a DEXA scan and during the course of her appointment it was confirmed that she was showing early signs of osteoporosis and was likely perimenopausal.

While she was relieved to finally have an understanding of what was going on with her, she struggled with the implications of getting older and was not ready to consider hormone therapy when the endocrinologist initially recommended it as a preventive measure – and means of maintaining her bone health.

“I was in this sort of in-between space of who I once was and who I was becoming. I knew I was heading toward something, but I didn’t know what. And I longed for a version of myself I once knew and grieved those parts that had formed part of my identity, terrified by not knowing what might come next. It was very confusing.

This grief over who I once was would show up as the classic menopause symptoms, depression, rage, irritability, and a sense of betrayal that my body no longer served in the same way.”

She says that residing in that discomfort and that in-between space, gifted her an opportunity to embark on some deep work around growth and transformation. Ultimately, she says she just did what she “knew how to do”, which was returning to the sense of being held by the practices she had cultivated through yoga, meditation, somatic movement, nutrition, and lifestyle.

Gaby’s early experience with perimenopause is why she engages women as early as their mid-thirties in embodiment work. As a first-generation Ecuadoran-American, she says that while women’s bodies are generally celebrated in her culture, issues of sexual and reproductive health are not discussed. She believes it’s important for women to start the conversation about menopause transition before they experiencing symptoms so they aren’t blind-sided like she was.

“I know that my journey continues to unfold, yet emerging on the other side has felt so much more expansive, empowering, and life-affirming. I want to help other women tap into this space for themselves and get more comfortable speaking about and working through the changes with their bodies.”

Finding the right balance…sometimes it’s lifestyle and hormones.

Although Gaby initially declined pursuing hormone therapy to manage her bone health, after her second DEXA scan (almost two years later) showed that she had osteoporosis, she reconsidered.

“I was initially scared about taking HRT. There wasn’t much literature available except for the scaremongering type. However, when I returned to my endocrinologist for a second DEXA scan, I was post-menopausal and I was osteoporotic. So, I knew I had to take the HRT to help save my bones.

I did quite a bit of my own research and came across the book “Estrogen Matters” by Avrum Bluming and Carol Tavris, which outlined research on the importance of estrogen and bone health. It was helpful in addressing some of the concerns I was having.”

Even though she eventually decided to take hormone therapy, Gaby says it took close to two years to come up with the right balance that didn’t bring on another string of unwelcome side effects. During that time, she tried various types of HRT including body identical hormones and bioidenticals to find one that worked best for her.

“I tried so many different types of HRT – gels, pills – because nothing really suited me. It was definitely trial and error, but I knew that I had to do this to save my bones. I went to several different doctors and finally found a combination that worked for me, which was an estrogen patch. And then the thing was finding the right type of progesterone. That was another rollercoaster ride…”

She’s been taking HRT for almost five years and considers it to be just one element of a comprehensive approach to her health and cautions against thinking of hormone therapy as a cure all.

“It’s great to see more conversations are being had around HRT as it gives women more options to manage symptoms. However, it is important that we don’t view it as a bandage to mask symptoms and not do anything to change your lifestyle. It’s all about taking a 360 degrees approach and educating yourself on all aspects of your health – knowledge really is power.”

Gaby fully embraces and lives what she teaches other women, which is to take a holistic approach to their health and wellness. She also stresses that sometimes finding the right balance to support our health involves a combination of natural and medical remedies.

Helping others build out their menopause toolbox.

Giving women the language and the tools to manage their menopause transition and aging experience is what Gaby provides, in both her group classes and individual coaching sessions with clients.

She says that much of the work begins with building awareness of the different ways we can address varying symptoms – psychological, physical, mental, and emotional – through mindful eating, physical conditioning, meditative practice and breath work.

“It’s not only one thing, it’s several things. Together, we’re creating a toolbox of practices and tools to help women do this work and claim their pleasure, their power and their purpose.”

Gaby’s work centers around the belief that we have the power within us to manifest who we want to be in the world and what we want for ourselves. She serves as both guide and coach to help women clarify their goals and align them with their values, “And then we use the embodiment practices, which are mostly somatic inquiry, movement and visualization-based, to peel back the layers of what’s holding them back.”

To learn more about embodiment coaching or to work with Gaby, visit her website at https://www.gabriellaespinosa.com and follow her on Instagram @gabriellaespinosa.



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